1 Light cruiser
2 Landing Ship Infantry
1 Survey ship
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
1 Freighter 1
Tugboat Royal Norwegian Navy
No. 12 Commando
No. 12 Commando 223 men
Norwegian Company 77 men
Eight divisions in Norway
three coastal defence
one Luftwaffe Field Division
Unknown number of aircraft and naval forces
Casualties and losses
1 light cruiser heavily damaged
1 patrol ship sunk
2 wireless stations destroyed
Norwegian Campaigns (1941–45)
Attacks on Tirpitz
28 January 1945
9 February 1945
Raids and Commando Actions in
Norway during World War II
Kirkenes & Petsamo
Heavy water sabotage
Operation Anklet was the codename given to a
British Commando raid
during the Second World War. The raid on the
Lofoten Islands was
carried out in December 1941, by 300 men from
No. 12 Commando
No. 12 Commando and the
Norwegian Independent Company 1. The landing party was supported by 22
ships from three navies.
At the same time, another raid was taking place in Vågsøy. This raid
was Operation Archery, on 27 December 1941, and
Operation Anklet was
seen as a diversionary raid for this bigger raid, intended to draw
away the German naval and air forces.
6 External links
After the British Expeditionary Force had been evacuated from Dunkirk
in 1940, the then British Prime Minister
Winston Churchill called for
a force to be assembled and equipped to inflict casualties on the
Germans and bolster British morale. Churchill told the joint Chiefs of
Staff to propose measures for an offensive against German-occupied
Europe, and stated: "they must be prepared with specially trained
troops of the hunter class who can develop a reign of terror down the
One staff officer,
Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Clarke, had already
submitted such a proposal to
General Sir John Dill, the Chief of the
General Staff. Dill, aware of Churchill's intentions,
approved Clarke's proposal.
The Commandos came under the operational control of the Combined
Operations Headquarters. The man initially selected as the commander
Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, a veteran of the
Gallipoli Campaign and
Zeebrugge Raid in the First World War. In 1940, the call went
out for volunteers from among the serving Army soldiers within certain
formations still in Britain, and men of the disbanding Divisional
Independent Companies originally raised from Territorial Army
Divisions who had seen service in Norway.[nb 1]
Lofoten Islands form part of the north western Norwegian coastline
about 100 mi (160 km) inside the Arctic Circle. Operation
Anklet would be the second raid on the islands. The first, Operation
Claymore, had taken place in March 1941, and the third raid, Operation
Archery, would take place at the same time as Operation Anklet.
The raid was organised by the Combined Operations Headquarters, and
would only use naval and land assets, the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force was not
involved. But it would be the last raid undertaken without air
The naval force formed for
Operation Anklet consisted of 22 ships from
three navies. The
Royal Navy provided the most ships which included
the light cruiser HMS Arethusa; six destroyers (HMS Somali,
Ashanti, Bedouin, Eskimo, Lamerton and Wheatland); three minesweepers
(HMS Speedwell, Harrier and Halcyon); two Landing Ship Infantry
(HMS Prins Albert and Prinses Josephine Charlotte); the
submarines HMS Tigris, HMS Sealion; and the survey ship
HMS Scott. The
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Royal Fleet Auxiliary provided two fleet tankers
RFA Grey Ranger and Black Ranger); the freighter Gudrun Maersk; and
Royal Norwegian Navy
Royal Norwegian Navy provided the corvettes HNoMS Andenes
and Eglantine, while the
Polish Navy provided the destroyers OORP
Krakowiak and Kujawiak.
The landing force was supplied by 223 men of No. 12 Commando,
supported by 77 men of the Norwegian Independent Company 1.
The naval task force was assembled at three locations: Scapa Flow,
Greenock and Lerwick. The task force, now known as Force J, left Scapa
Greenock for the
Lofoten Islands on Monday 22 December, and those
Lerwick the following day. En route to join up with the main force,
the infantry landing ship Prinses Josephine Charlotte developed engine
trouble, and together with her destroyer escort Wheatland was sent
back to Scapa, arriving on 24 December. Wheatland left Scapa alone on
25 December to catch up with the rest of Force J. As the task force
approached the islands, the submarine Sealion was already in position
to act as a navigational beacon for the attack, which was planned for
When the task force arrived, the infantry landing ship Prins Albert,
escorted by destroyer Lamerton and corvettes Eglantine and Acanthus,
Moskenesøya to land the commandos. Some of the
other ships conducted operations around the islands. The destroyer
Bedouin destroyed a radio station at Flakstadøya, while the cruiser
Arethusa and destroyers Somali, Ashanti, and Eskimo entered the
Vestfjorden. Here they captured the Norwegian coastal steamers Kong
Harald and Nordland and Ashanti sank a German patrol boat.
The 300-man landing force landed at 06:00 on Boxing Day. The date had
been selected by British planners, who expected the German garrison to
be concentrating on the
Christmas festivities and would therefore be
caught unprepared. The landings were unopposed as the commandos,
dressed in white camouflaged overalls, were landed on the western side
of the island of Moskenesøya. They soon occupied the villages of
Reine and Moskenes, capturing the small German garrison and a number
of Norwegian Quislings at the radio station at Glåpen.
Reine one of the villages occupied in the raid
The raiding force was attacked on 27 December 1941 by a German
seaplane that bombed the cruiser Arethusa. Although it was not hit, it
did suffer some damage that would require 14 weeks in dock to
repair. With no air support of their own, the commander of the
Admiral Hamilton, having occupied the Norwegian villages for two
days, decided to pull out and head back to Scapa, where they arrived
on 1 January 1942.
During Operation Anklet, two radio transmitters were destroyed,
several small German boats were captured or sunk, and a small number
of Germans and Quislings were made prisoners of war. The navy also
captured an Enigma coding machine, with its associated wheels and
settings, from the patrol ship they had sunk. They also returned
with over 200 Norwegians who volunteered to serve in the Free
Norwegian Forces. The raid was successful, with no casualties to
the Allied force. At least one lesson seemed to have been learnt, as
it was the last raid undertaken without air support.
During the war, there were 12 commando raids directed against
Norway. The German response was to increase the number of troops
they stationed there. By 1944, the German garrison in
increased to 370,000 men. (For comparison, a British infantry
division in 1944 had 18,347 men.)
^ The 10 independent companies were raised from volunteers in second
line Territorial Army divisions in April 1940. They were intended for
guerrilla style operations in
Norway following the German invasion.
Each of the 10 companies initially consisted of 21 officers and 268
^ Messenger, p.47
^ "No. 38342". The London Gazette. 2 July 1948. p. 3881.
"Raid on military and economic objectives in the vicinity of Vaagso
^ a b Haskew, p.47
^ Chappell, p.6
^ Moreman, p.13
^ a b Messenger, p.15
^ a b c d e f g "
Lofoten Islands 2nd Raid 26/27 December 1941".
Combined Operations. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
^ a b c d e f "Background Events, December 1941 to February 1942".
Naval History. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
^ "HMS Wheatland". Naval History. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
^ "Operation Anklet". Commando operations in Norway. Retrieved 18 July
^ Chappell, p.14
^ Brayley & Chappell, p.17
Brayley, Martin; Chappell, Mike (2001). British Army 1939–45 (1):
North-West Europe. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-052-8.
Chappell, Mike (1996). Army Commandos 1940–1945. Osprey Publishing.
Haskew, Michael E (2007). Encyclopaedia of Elite Forces in the Second
World War. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-84415-577-4.
Joslen, H. F. (1990). Orders of Battle, Second World War, 1939–1945.
Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84342-474-6.
Messenger, Charles (2004). The D Day Atlas. Thames & Hudson.
Moreman, Timothy Robert (2006).
British Commandos 1940–46. Osprey
Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-986-X.
Naval message to Force J after the raid.
British Commando raids of the Second World War
List of Commando raids on the A